PG&E caps wildfire payments at $16.9 billion for individual victims, insurance carriers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Monday, PG&E offered $16.9 billion to pay wildfire-related claims. The proposal, filed in federal court, would cap payments to insurance companies for fire-related pay-outs at $8.5 billion. The remaining $8.4 billion would go to wildfire victims.

In a statement, the utility's CEO, Bill Johnson, said in part, "We will meet our commitment to fairly compensate wildfire victims and we will emerge from Chapter 11 financially sound."

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"It's a slap in the face in how small it is, certainly for our fire," explained Eric Edenfield, who spoke to ABC7 via Skype from Oregon Monday night. He and his husband lost their Coffey Park home in the 2017 Tubbs fire, which decimated much of Santa Rosa.

They are one of an estimated 40,000 people who have or will file a claim against PG&E for the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. "We lost our homes, our jobs, literally our lifestyle was taken from us, because of apparent negligence and profit mongering by PG&E. So yeah, I think I'm due something," said Edenfield.

PG&E's $16.9 billion offer, is a fraction of their estimated wildfire liability... which many say is closer to $30 billion.

"They're putting a low number out there that they probably don't completely believe in," said Jared Ellias, a law professor at UC Hastings, with an expertise in corporate bankruptcy.

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Ellias believes PG&E's offer is a negotiating tactic and says the dollar amounts are likely to change over the next few months. "If I were a wildfire victim, I wouldn't go and panic based on these numbers that are put out there today."

On Tuesday morning, hearings begin in San Francisco, to set up a calendar to estimate PG&E's true wildfire liability.

Read the full PG&E statement here.
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